Saturday, 17 August, 2019

US trying to create alternative to Assad in Syria, says Lavrov

GettyImages-906375794 US trying to create alternative to Assad in Syria, says Lavrov
Patty Aguilar | 23 January, 2018, 21:10

"Relations between Turkey and Russian Federation have been gradually getting closer in the context of the Syria conflict, whereas tensions have been rising between Ankara and Washington, which backs the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria", reports Al Jazeera.

"The goal of Turkey - to ensure national security and territorial integrity of Syria", - said the leader of the country.

The battles had actually begun the night before but only with shells from Turkey against Kurdish forces under USA command. The officials in Ankara believe that the aforesaid militant group is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been designated by Turkey, USA and European Union as a terrorist group.

"We take very seriously Turkey's legitimate security concerns and we are committed to work with our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on those", Mattis said in Jakarta at the start of an Asian tour.

"We express our solidarity with the Syrian people and the Kurds in both Syria and Turkey who are constantly threatened by the Turkish government", he added.

He has vehemently opposed Western support for the militia and launched the assault on Afrin - dubbed "Operation Olive Branch" - not long after news reports said the U.S. had begun helping the YPG form a "border security force".

"We must stand with the isolated civilians of Afrin and defend them", Shirval al-Kurdi, a member of the KNC-aligned Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDKS), told Syria Direct on Sunday.

"We are determined, Afrin will be sorted out, we will take no step back", Mr. Erdogan said in a televised speech, claiming that Ankara has reached an agreement with Moscow in regards to the situation.

What has happened on the ground?

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The district of Afrin is home to around 500,000 civilians, including refugees from elsewhere in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that the new offensive with be a swift incursion and his armed forces will re-take Afrin "within a few days".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the YPG had repelled Turkish troops from two villages that had been briefly captured in heavy fighting.

What's the background to the offensive?

On Tuesday, the Kurdish militia, known as the People's Defense Units or YPG, regained control of a village breached by the Turkish forces earlier.

Mattis said Turkish military officials informed the U.S.by phone of the strikes, but the defense secretary did not indicate whether US officials cautioned Turkey against the attack. "But now that the gang is gone, Turkey is fighting Afrin".

A soldier was martyred on Monday during clashes with terrorist groups in northwestern Syria as part of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military said.

This strike is coming barely 24 hours after a Turkish air raid killed 11 civilians in the same region.

The U.S. coalition in Syria said this week the BSF will be built up "over the next several years" and "be stationed along the borders.to include portions of the Euphrates river valley and worldwide borders to the east and north".

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